Residential Eating Disorder Treatment in Marbella, Spain
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Marbella Eating Disorder Hospital€ Call For Prices
- Luxury? Yes
- Licensed Hospital? Yes
- Location: Seafront
- Bulimia Clinic: Yes
- Year Established: 2010
- Listing type: Eating Disorder Clinic
- Parking: Secure
- Treat Anorexia?: Yes
Residential Luxury Eating Disorder Rehab in Marbella in Spain
Eating Disorder Information
Eating Disorders are both potentially life threatening conditions that are increasing at an alarming rate. Men, women, girls and boys are suffering from these diseases and eating disorders are not disease of race, age or gender, they can happen to anyone. There has been huge amounts of publicity over the years about these conditions, so that most of us at least know that anorexics starve themselves and bulimics binge and purge. We also know that overeaters eat too much and often binge. Certainly it is not understood that eating disorders are not just about food and being thin but are part of an emotional system that affect's every aspect of the sufferer's life. I believe that many need to learn and understand what eating disorders are, why people have them and how people recover. I can only hope that some will realize how strong the grips of eating disorders can become and how important it is to get professional help and treatment.
Those with eating disorders think they are bad for having needs and feelings. It seems the earliest lessons in life are the most difficult to forget and unlearn. An anorexic or bulimic may have been taught that they should not have feelings or needs that their family cannot deal with or respond to. It does not make those feelings go away, it only represses them until they surface later and sometimes with greater force. Many have accepted over the years that they should not have such feelings and believe they are bad for having them. The carry tremendous amounts of self-hate, guilt and shame.
Low self esteem is a characteristic every person with an eating disorder seems to have, one which I have suffered greatly. Through out life they may have been told "You're nothing" or "You're stupid" etc. After time the person will eventually believe these things are true and accept it. Or perhaps their parents wanted them to be something that they were not and could not be and they have attempted to be that vision of what their parents wanted and have failed. They feel unworthy and undeserving of health and a happy life. The eating disorders are reflections of how they feel and are attempts to end feelings but in the long term, eating disorders do not solve these underlying problems. It is my quest to raise awareness about eating disorders so you know what they are, the signs and symptoms, the health dangers and what treatment is available and where. I believe education and awareness are two key weapons in the on going fight against eating disorders.
Dangers of Eating Disorders
Physical dangers of Anorexia Nervosa :
Delayed Pubertal Development
Shrinkage of internal organs
Loss of menstruation (Amenorrhea)
Osteoporosis (Thinning bones)
Weakness, fatigue, and/or fainting spells
Infertility (Unable to have a baby)
Bowel and urinary problems
Hair loss and/or growth or Lanugo
Physical dangers of Bulimia Nervosa:
Broken blood vessels and swollen glands
Kidney and Liver damage
Swollen or infected saliva glands
Sore throat and pain
Teeth and gum problems
Bleeding of the Esophagus (Tube that carries food to stomach)
Weakness and fatigue
Irregular or loss of menstruation (Amenorrhea)
Digestive problems such as stomach cramping, nausea, bloating, diarrhea, or intestine rupture.
Stomach ulcers which can lead to partial intestine removal or stomach rupture
Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa
Irritability and/ or mood swings
Restricting food choices
Dizziness and/or fainting spells
Guilt and/or shame about eating
Pale complexion, dry skin
Insomnia (Unable to sleep)
Excuses for not eating meals
Obsession with food and calories
Always feeling, being cold
Loss of menstruation, irregular menstruation (Amenorrhea)
Complains of being "too fat" even when thin
Difficulty eating around others
Checks weight on scale often (See our section on scales)
Wears loose clothing to hide weight loss
Evidence of controlling weight by laxatives, diet pills or diuretics.
Avoids restaurants and planned meals
Symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa
Visits to the bathroom after eating
Broken blood vessels
Complains of sore throat
Depression and mood swings
Abuse of alcohol and/or drugs
Harsh exercising patterns (See Over-exercising)
Abuse of Ipecac, laxatives, diuretics and/or diet pills.
Self-worth determined by weight
Self-hate feelings after eating
Avoids restaurants, planned meals etc.
Needs approval from others
Self test for eating disorders
This test is to help you determine if you have an Eating Disorder. Be as honest as possible and remember the only person who can decide if you have an Eating Disorder is you.
Answer YES or NO to the following questions below.
Do you feel out of control when you eat?
Do you starve yourself?
Do you feel in control when you don't eat?
Do you feel you don't deserve to eat?
Do you have an intense fear of gaining weight?
Do you believe you are fat even though others tell you different?
Do you use diet pills or or laxatives to control your weight?
Do you feel guilt after eating?
After eating, do you binge and self induce vomiting?
Do you binge if you are feeling sad?
Do you feel food and weight are the only things that you have control over?
Do you tell yourself you're ugly, fat, worthless etc.?
Do you avoid social gatherings or meals because of food?
Are you ashamed of your eating habits?
Do you think about food constantly?
Do you exercise excessively to lose weight?
Do you believe you will be happier if you lose weight?
Do you get angry at people if they ask you about your eating habits?
Are you secretive about what you eat or don't eat?
Do you have a need to be perfect?
Do you lie about your weight loss and make efforts to hide it from others?
Do you constantly think about food, calories and recipes?
Do you think that you may have an Eating Disorder?
If you have answered YES to four or more of the following questions you may have an Eating Disorder or one may be starting. I would strongly urge you to discussing matters with us as we specialize in eating disorders. Also consider talking to a close friend or family member who may be able to offer you support.
Telling someone about an eating disorder
Making the decision to tell others about your eating disorder can be very difficult. You have many fears about taking this step and you probably feel embarrassed and ashamed. When I thought of telling someone, I had many questions, here are some of them.
"Will they understand?"
Some people will understand or be willing to to understand while others will not. Some will make an effort to learn more about your disorder so they can better help you. Others of course may not be so understanding and may be unwilling to educate themselves on the topic. As hard as it may be, this is a fact of life and chances are, these people are just plain ignorant.
"Will people make fun of me?"
If the person you are telling truly loves and cares about you, the information you give them will be anything but funny or something to poke fun at. However, there are people who can be hurtful. If this happens, you will have to try to avoid them and accept them as being plain ignorant. They have no right to treat you unkindly.
"How will they react?"
This is a difficult question as each person reacts in different ways. You can never predict how someone will react. The reaction I think is what we fear the most and what stops us from telling. Everyone you tell won't react the same way. Some people may be shocked while others have already suspected your condition. Others may be so upset that they cry and others will say nothing, not knowing how to respond to your news. You may have to give people time to absorb what you told them, to let it sink in. Be prepared to answer some questions as they may and will probably have lots to ask you.
"Will they think I'm nuts?"
People who take the time to understand you and your eating disorder will not label you as being crazy or even nuts. Those who may are insensitive and ignorant on the topic of eating disorders.
"Will people treat me different?"
It may take time for people, especially family to come to accept the fact that you have an eating disorder. They may not know what to say to you or what to do so they may try to avoid you. They do this because they feel uncomfortable and don't know how to respond to you. In time, people will come around as they better understand you and the disorder.
"Will people desert me?"
The people who truly love and care about you will not abandon or leave you during a time in your life that you need them most. This is a time in your life when you will learn and see the people who are there for you and the ones who are not. If you are married or in a relationship, an eating disorder can cause a great deal of stress to your marriage or relationship. While it is true that in spite of all efforts some marriages break down, there are other marriages that flourish and couples grow and become stronger together. If you are not one of those fortunate ones and you feel your marriage is suffering, you may want to consider therapy with your partner and/or marriage counseling.
"Will my parents get mad at me?"
Some parents have a hard time dealing and accepting the fact that their child has an eating disorder. Too often parents will blame themselves and struggle with a great deal of guilt over it. These are feelings they will have to face and deal with, it's not your fault or problem. Some parents will show anger out of frustration, guilt, worry and fear. There are also parents who don't get angry who turn out to be wonderful support systems. Again, remember it is hard to predict how your parents or anyone else will react. You will have to take the risk to find out.
Here are a few ideas to help you along if you are deciding to tell someone about your eating disorder.
Don't fear the worst! Things aren't always as bad as we anticipate them to be. You have to first take the risk to discover what the true outcome will be.
Tell someone you trust. First, you can start by telling a close friend or family member that you trust. It is important that you feel comfortable with that person and feel comfortable talking to them.
Bring someone with you. If you are telling your family and will have great difficulty, consider having a friend with you for support and encouragement. Having a therapist present while you talk to your family can also provide you with more security. The therapist can offer information, help discuss feelings and be there to answer questions.
Bring information with you. The person you choose to tell may not know a lot about eating disorders and maybe even nothing at all. It would be a good idea to bring a book or sheets of information you have about eating disorders.
Write a letter. When it is too difficult to say things verbally to someone writing a letter can be a great way to communicate. You can tell someone about your eating disorder in a letter and express your thoughts, feelings and fears. You can take time to write your letter and give more time as to how to say things. This also gives the recipient of your letter time to react and think about your letter and they can even reread your letter if they wish and need to. A letter is a good idea if you are too afraid to tell but want someone to know.
Telling someone about your eating disorder will take courage and who you tell and when you tell is your choice. Don't let anyone force you into doing something that you don't want to do. You must do what is best for you. There is no right or wrong way to tell someone, you will have to do it your own way that you feel is right for you.
The more you tell people, the easier it will become. After time you will begin to feel less embarrassed and ashamed and you may even start to feel proud of the fact that you are fighting to overcome your eating disorder. Telling someone is only a step that I encourage you to take. It is a step towards recovery and a step to getting more help and support into your life.
Pregnancy and Eating Disorders
There are some things you need to know about pregnancy and eating disorders.
Women with eating disorders who become pregnant are at higher risk for complications such as:
Low Birth Weight
Delayed Fetal Growth
Mother and baby are also at a greater risk for:
Complications during labor
Low Amniotic Fluid
Death due to complications
There is a common misconception out there among young women and girls who have eating disorders that a pregnancy can somehow serve as a solution to their problem and/or help them towards recovery. Not only can I tell you these ideas are false, I can also speak from experience. I can also tell you it is not a wise decision to become pregnant while suffering from an eating disorder or the in the process of trying to recover. As you will note, in my personal experience, my pregnancy left me with new and difficult challenges in addition the ones I was already facing.
My pregnancy was an unplanned shock and surprise and occurred during a time when I was still sick and in the first initial stages of recovery. My feelings and emotions were everywhere and I had feelings of uncertainty and fear. I was already facing and dealing with the emotions of restoring my weight, how could I deal with the weight associated with pregnancy? Could I? As the pregnancy progressed I knew my body was going to change, could I handle it? What if I couldn't? Recovery had started out being about me and my problems and working on dealing with them and all of a sudden it wasn't, I had a new person that I had to shift my attention and thoughts to. The truth of the matter was, I was barely surviving and taking care of myself, how could I care and look after a baby? I also wasn't new to the challenges of motherhood and how much a baby would dramatically change my life yet once again. Apart from the joy and happiness a baby could bring, they are a lot of work and time consuming, Could I physically and emotionally handle this new responsibility in my life?
Even more, could my husband and I financially afford this new baby? My illness had also placed stress and problems in my marriage, could my marriage survive the stress a new baby would bring? If you don't have a spouse or partner in your life, you will be faced with raising a child on your own and the question to ask is, Can you cope with raising an infant on your own?
The health of me and my baby was a main consideration and a source of worry for both me and my husband. The importance of my health became even more essential. It raised such questions as, Could I carry a baby to term? Would and could I have a miscarriage? Would I have a normal labour and delivery as I had in the past? Would the baby be born healthy? If all these unanswered questions weren't enough I had to wonder what effect my pregnancy would have on my eating disorder and my attempts to recover. Could I maintain a healthy weight and eat properly? That had been my biggest problem. While I secretly hoped it would give me the motivation or "reason" to eat well, it never proved to be that simple. Eating had been hard enough and now there was an added pressure and I can tell you that a pregnancy doesn't make you "want" to eat nor does it change your behaviors. There were times I skipped meals and later felt extremely guilty for it as know skipping meals meant I was depriving by unborn baby was well.
My prenatal care was good and went well however it involved me being weighed at each visit. I found it very difficult to fully free myself from my preoccupations with my weight and that of the scale. While the scale continued to go up and proved I was doing well, it didn't come without feelings and emotions that I had to struggle with along the way. There were times I felt very overwhelmed and at times even struggled with depression.
After a full term pregnancy, I was blessed with a healthy and beautiful baby girl. While I love her and cherish her more than anything in the world, I have had to work much harder towards my recovery. Yes, I did gain weight through my pregnancy but the weight was only one factor of the many problems I struggled with and had yet to truly face. A new baby as lovely as she was and still is, didn't solve my problems and certainly didn't give me the motivation I needed to recover. There were many times I looked at her sweet little face and said "I want to get better for you" but the painful realization is - I had to want and do it for myself that even she was not enough. I felt a need to show everyone I was a good parent and capable and during stressful times I often turned to my eating disorder as a way to cope and deal the many feelings and emotions I had inside. The added stress also worked against me, lack of sleep and energy - it is not easy. Not to mention the possibility of post-partum depression.
If You Are Not Pregnant
I only hope my story can serve as a warning to those who are thinking about becoming pregnant while suffering from an eating disorder or trying to successfully recover. I urge you to think about this life changing decision and seriously consider and ask yourself the same questions that I was faced with. When you answer these questions, I ask that you be as honest as you can with yourself. Don't sugar coat what the truth may be. Pregnancy is not the answer to any problem in this world, especially an eating disorder. I often wish I had been further into my recovery before my baby came so I could have been truly healthy and ready. Wouldn't you rather be happy and healthy so you can fully enjoy this special experience in your life? I nor anyone else can make these choices or decisions for you but I ask you take note of my words and seriously consider the consequences your actions may have on you and a child. No one should ever try to become pregnant while suffering from an eating disorder or trying to recover. I urge you to learn from my experience. Pregnancy was straining on my body and left me emotionally and physically exhausted at times which led me to be depressed which made my pregnancy even harder. It is also important to keep in mind that babies after birth can develop slower and may be even be smaller than other babies born to mothers who don't have an eating disorder. Don't take the unnecessary risk, you may not turn out as fortunate and lucky in the end as I was.
If you are in the later stages of recovery and are doing well and are thinking or attempting to become pregnant, I also encourage you to take your decision seriously and really look into how a baby will effect your life. It's a good idea to discuss it with your doctor and even your family should you wish. If you are having doubts and fears, I also suggest you bring them up with your therapist if you have one. He/she can help you work through some of your feelings and emotions and help guide you toward a decision that's best for you.
If You Are Pregnant
If you are pregnant and have found yourself in a similar situation as I was, healthy eating now is truly important, your baby is depending on you. Regardless, if you are underweight or overweight, good nutrition and a well balanced diet is very important. Please tell your doctor about your eating disorder, it's important they know for the safety of you and your baby. Should any problems arise, your doctor will have a better idea as to how to help you and there will be no guessing games when it comes to your health. Your health care provider can also assist you in the areas of good nutrition should it be a problem for you. The best advice I can give you is to look after yourself and keep trying to work through your eating disorder. If you have a therapist stick with your appointments and if you don't have a therapist, make an effort to find one so they can help assist you during your pregnancy. For any woman who is going to have a baby, good, strong support is a must. If you're having difficulties, find someone you can reach out to, someone that you can really talk to. Stick with your prenatal care and always do the best that you can. I already had children when I suffered from my eating disorder but if this is your first baby, learn all you can about pregnancy, birth and parenting. There are many books and Internet resources available (I have provided some below for your convenience as starting points) that offer great information. This well help you feel more prepared and perhaps ease any anxiety you may be feeling. One place I think is great is the Pregnant With An Eating Disorder Discussion Board at Parents Place where they have a wealth of information on various health issues. If you are planning to breastfeed after your baby is born, proper nutrition is also important for milk production and supply. You can also find information about what you can expect after you baby is born and information about post partum depression that you should be aware of. I wish you the best of luck in your journey towards motherhood, I can tell you it will be the most challenging yet rewarding time in your life. Best wishes and good luck.
Fertility Problems May Occur
If you have had an eating disorder for a very long time you are at greater risk of fertility problems. The healthier you are and the closer to your normal weight is and the healthier your diet is, the better your chances of a pregnancy to occur. If you are well on your way towards recovery or have recovered and are having a difficult time conceiving a child, talk to your health care provider about fertility testing. You eating disorder could be the cause of your problems but not the only possible cause. Many couples have difficulty having a baby for a variety or problems. Your doctor may refer to a specialist in this field to investigate your problems further. If a problem is found, the specialist will discuss your problem and the variety of possible options available to you.
The Journey Towards Recovery.
As I moved towards recovery, I often asked myself "Where do I begin?" or "How do I start over?" I frequently found myself completely overwhelmed with the thought of it all. In many ways I did want to change and recover yet that was also very scary for me. My life felt like a bunch of tiny scattered pieces lying on the ground, a complicated jig saw puzzle that had broke apart somewhere and somehow. I didn't know which piece to pick up first and when I did pick it up, I didn't know where it was supposed to go. It was a very confusing time for me and it was difficult to find comfort, it seemed no one understood me which made me feel even more alone. I often cried and felt sorry for myself and was truly depressed. It was scary and overwhelming to think that all these pieces lying on the ground represented a part of me, a part of my life. While I didn't want to leave them there, I was also afraid to start picking them up. I didn't think I could do it and I struggled with the fear that I would fail. I constantly felt angry and frustrated and "Why me?" were constant repeated words in my vocabulary. Apart from the misery my eating disorder caused me I also liked the feelings it provided to me. I knew recovery would mean living without it and how could I ever live without it? I felt afraid to live without it and parts of me wanted to hang on it to it and "defend" it. I often wondered if I was "ready" to recover. Everyone in my life wanted things for me but I wasn't sure if I wanted the same. Everyone else seemed to see things that I didn't see either. I often wished I could borrow their eyes for just a moment to capture a glimpse of what they could see as my eyes seemed so blind. Even around the people I love and care about, I felt like an alien and an outcast, everyone felt so distant. I hated myself for the tears and pain I felt I had caused yet it wasn't enough to set me out on my way towards recovery. I don't think there was a time where I didn't feel guilty and ashamed and wondered if they "could ever forgive me." I had not always been honest, could they ever trust or believe in me again? While trying to pick up the pieces, I knew recovery would also mean eating again and a healthier eating habits and with that, the weight would come back. I didn't know how I would feel or how I would cope. How do I deal with those feelings?
While it was a difficult time, it also served as a turning point for me. I describe this time as being "in the middle" of my eating disorder and recovery. For me, it was either "pick up the pieces" or "leave them there" and I was afraid of both. It is during this time that I also came the difficult realization that no one was going to pick up these pieces and hand them to me, it was something I had to do for myself. I didn't know how to do it, where to turn, if I really wanted to or even if I was ready, I just knew I wanted to try.
The process of recovery has not been easy, fast or painless. It has not come without tears and frustration or without setbacks. As I gradually pick up each piece of my life, I often find a piece too heavy to carry and I am unsure where they fit. I go through times where the effort is discouraging and tiring and I feel like giving up. While I know and feel I have made progress, my work is always being tested. I struggle to keep my life together and when one or two pieces fall back down, I have to pick them back up again. Through this process I have learned and made many new discoveries. Over time, I have become stronger and more aware and recovery has been slow but a true learning process.
The support system in your life will be important during any recovery process in your life. While I have provided information about myself on this page, I encourage you not to compare your recovery with mine. We all have different problems in our life and every situation is so unique. What worked for me, might not work for you and always keep in mind that recovery is about trial and error and you will learn as you go.
I can tell you support will be very important and you will need it from the people in your life. Your parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles can be a great deal of help and guidance to you. For me, I was fortunate to have the support from my husband. While we had our problems along the way, my husband was so happy and eager for me to recover that he was willing to do anything to help me. My eating disorder took a great toll on our marriage however I found the recovery process was an opportunity to grow and learn. Not only did he learn many things about me, I learned a lot about him too. While an eating disorder can destroy a marriage, my eating disorder in many ways improved mine. Even if you don't have a spouse in your life, this does mean you can't get support. You can find personal support along the lines in family and friends. Since I had alienated and isolated myself from friends, I often found it hard to find friends who could understand or really be there to support me. At times, I only felt like a burden to them and didn't like to dump my problems on them. I also didn't feel comfortable just talking to "anyone" so it's important to find someone that you can feel comfortable with. Even when I thought a person could be no support for me, they turned out to be the best support. Don't judge someone until you try, you might pleasantly surprise yourself. It may be possible to seek help and support from a teacher, doctor or nurse or even a member from your church that will be willing to help you. Many of my friends knew little or absolutely nothing about eating disorders but took on the effort of learning more on their own which helped me a great deal. The bottom line is, is that it's important to have people in your life who can support you. Apart from this website, there are many other websites that offer different forms of support such as mailing lists, chat rooms, message boards, pen pal lists etc. Your area may also have a support group for those who are afflicted with an eating disorder and/or for friends and families. We now have a recovery mailing list right here on the S.C.a.R.E.D. Website! The list is called "The Beyond S.C.a.R.E.D." Mailing List". Be sure to see the mailing list home page and consider being a part of it! For more see: Treatment For Eating Disorders
If you are considering moving towards recovery without professional help or know someone who is, I encourage you make careful considerations about this step. Health is always the main consideration when trying to recover on your own. My eating disorder left me underweight, malnourished and severely depressed (Also see depression) making any recovery attempt next to impossible. If your health is at risk, you may need medical attention or hospitalization to stabilize your health prior to undertaking any recovery. If you abuse alcohol or drugs, I also encourage you to get professional help because you require it. If you feel suicidal or extremely depressed, please seek professional help as you can't help yourself if your health is endangering you.
I also strongly encourage you to explore the variety of self-help books available on the topic of eating disorders. Learning about your eating disorder and understanding it, is half the battle in moving towards any recovery process. Many of the books provide useful and helpful information and advice. While you can borrow books from the library, I found it very useful to have a book near by for "reference". Friends and family members should also read some of these books as they can learn how to better support you during this time.
I didn't know if I was ready to recover and I didn't know if I wanted to and perhaps you feel the same. The most important question to ask myself was "Am I willing to try?" and that is the question you should ask yourself. Are you willing to really make an effort and try? You must have a willingness and determination to recover and lastly, you must do it for yourself. Always keep in mind, that no matter where you are in the process of helping yourself, don't ever hesitate or feel that you can you can't ever reach out for help, help is always available should you ever need it. There is nothing that can replace professional help and I personally encourage it. For more see: Treatment For Eating Disorders
There is very good professional help out there for those who suffer from eating disorders, it may not always be easy to find but it is there. Good help will aid you in managing your eating disorder in various ways. Diagnosis and medical treatment are usually the first initial steps in dealing with any eating disorder. Doctors and hospitals are great at providing information and resources to patients for their specific area. There are many treatment options available and resources to help. The first place I started was an eating disorder organization. Since I felt embarrassed and scared to tell them I was calling for me, I told them I was calling for a friend. The important thing was, they sent me the information and resources I needed in the mail to get help. You can find these organizations by searching for them in your phone book or a search engine. Some organizations can be found on this website and are listed on other websites on the topic of eating disorders. For more see: Treatment For Eating Disorders
Treatment is different for everyone as everyone has their own problems and individual needs. The treatment options are different and will depend on what is offered in your area. The condition of the person suffering will also determine the kind of treatment they will require. Some patients are hospitalized quickly if necessary. Some hospitals provide out-patient programs and important thing to know is, where to find it and what's available to you. Treatment usually depends on some kind of health monitoring with combined therapy. What works for one person may not work for another and you may have to search around to get the best care that suits you or your loved one. Nutritional counseling is sometimes recommended to help some patients with their eating habits and patterns. My insurance coverage did not cover it but if you have insurance that does, it can be a help for some people. For more see: Treatment For Eating Disorders
Finding the "perfect" therapist may not prove to be an easy task. I've heard people who tell me they love their therapist and others who don't like their therapist. It's obvious that those who like their therapist stay in treatment while those who don't end up leaving. This is why it is so important to find a therapist that suits you and a therapist you can be honest and comfortable with. If you already have a therapist that you don't like or feel comfortable with, I urge to find a new one that may better suit your needs. If you haven't found a therapist, try to find one that best suits your needs. Maybe you'll be lucky, maybe you won't but the important thing is, is to keep trying until you find the right one. During my own recovery, I felt a need to be a "part" of this search, if you feel the same, make a point of being an active part of this process, it is important. I never felt I need any kind of therapy but as I know now, it is important to understand and address the underlying issues of your eating disorder.
When it comes to the right and appropriate treatment, it is up to you to explore and investigate all your options. While the Canadian health care system is different from other countries, this is an area that you will also have to investigate. It is important to note that even if you can't afford treatment, there are still options available to you and it's important for you to find those options available. There are many resources available that can lead you to treatment and help options. Don't give up. For more see: Financial Burdens Of Eating Disorders
If you are reading this page for your friend or a loved one, it is important to know that you cannot force someone to want to recover or get help especially when they don't want it or "resist" your efforts. In my situation, any attempts from my husband to help me were only ever seen as attempts to "take over" or control me. All I could seem to do was resist his efforts and I grew defensive and defiant. I almost always felt he was "against me". In spite of my protests, he did persist even during times I told him I hated him and that I would divorce him. His actions made me feel threatened, scared and at times desperate. It seemed at the time, he was shoving me into a corner and all I could do was fight to get out. My husband sought medical advice on his own which resulted in me being hospitalized. I don't not regret his actions and if I could turn back the hands of time, I would ask that he do nothing different. While my husbands actions proved somewhat successful, it didn't come without other costs. His actions often pushed me away, making me feel more lonely which added to my suffering I was already enduring. This time was a power struggle between us and one I was determined not to lose. At times, he was someone I felt I couldn't trust or confide in and there are many times it felt like I had lost him. While it hurt my husband to see me abuse myself, he painfully realized after time that the only person who could help me was me. This is not an easy thing to accept and I don't have the perfect answer. I do know that it is difficult and devastating to watch someone you love hurt themselves and risk their life. While my husband could encourage me towards help and voice his concerns, the ultimate decision and choice lied with me. All he could do was love, care, listen, support, accept and encourage me in any way he possibly could. If you are dealing with someone in your life who has an eating disorder, find the help and support that you need to get you through this difficult time. I can assure you, there are many others out there who are dealing with the same crisis.
Children and Teens
If you have a son or daughter who has an eating disorder and is under the age of 18, it is important that you make decisions regarding their health and safety. I recently had a mother write to me who suspected their child was suffering from an eating disorder. She was hoping for validation or input from me. My response to her was simple. "If you were prompted to write me because you suspect there is a problem, you need to investigate and find out for sure". If you are a parent, I ask you to never under estimate the extent of your child's problem or the grip that an eating disorder can have. I am a parent and I've had an eating disorder. Don't let your child's begging, pleading and crying prevent you from seeking and getting the help they do need. They need to see your family doctor or be hospitalized to receive medical attention and treatment. Your child may try to convince you they will stop or it's not that bad, you must persist on professional help and make the necessary steps. I encourage you not to let guilt prevent you from from seeking help for your child and you must always keep in mind that any actions you take are for the best interests of your child. This is not easy and as a parent, I know it is not always easy to make decisions regarding our children. Be diligent in your efforts. Also see the parent support section of this site. For more see: Treatment For Eating Disorders
The best thing I can offer to people about recovery is hope. While there is no miracle cure or a guide written in stone there is an answer and solution that lies within each and every one of us. I often have people who write and ask questions about my personal recovery. The truth is, recovery has been on going process for me. I have never had a day where I didn't wake up and think about it and I often hear those voices that seem imprisoned in my mind. I have never woke up and felt truly "cured", in fact in ways I think my eating disorder will always be there. The difference in my life now is, is that I am aware of the eating disorder, the role it plays in my life and why. In spite of what I know and have learned I don't always feel strong, like anyone I have my share of good and bad days. Time and self discovery has made my journey easier along with the wonderful support of others in my life. I deal with everyday as it comes and learn new ways to cope and deal with problems that arise. Just as a child learning to walk, the first few steps are the hardest and there's no guarantee you won't fall down. For the child who tries and is determined, they will slowly learn and begin to walk. It may be wobbly at first with tears and bumps along the way but it's an expected part of learning and growing. As the child keeps trying and eventually walks, they become more confident and strong.
I have not typed out this page because I was bored or because I didn't have anything else to do. I am typing this page out because I know there are people out there still suffering and I really want to provide understanding and hope. I am not better or stronger than you, I have just traveled down a road that you have yet to discover for yourself. Perhaps you think your life and situation are hopeless but I can tell you nothing is hopeless. Recovery is worth the effort in every aspect. I can only encourage you towards this journey as it is a process that no one can do for you. No, it isn't easy, it is hard work and takes great effort and energy on your part. It won't be fixed overnight and there is no answer as to how long it will take. The rewards at the end are more than what I could ever write here. I have been where you are and now I hope, pray and encourage that one day you will make the choice to join me and be where I am today.
How to cope as a family member or friend of someone with an eating disorder.
A friend or family member suffering from an Eating Disorder can be very frightening. You want to help that person but you aren't sure what you can do. Sometimes, I'm sure you don't even know what to say.
On this page, I would like to outline some things can do and some things you shouldn't do or say to someone in your life that is suffering from an Eating Disorder. Keep in mind that each person is different and every situation unique, so you will have to use your best judgment.
Communication is important
Try to talk to your friend or loved one in a gentle and loving manner. There isn't anything wrong with going to them and telling them you are worried and concerned about them. You can also let them know that you are there to listen if they want to talk about anything.
When I sick myself, people would make comments to me that only put me on the defensive, things like "You look like a skeleton". It hurt me and only made me feel worse. Like many with Eating Disorders, I suffered from low self esteem so these comments only made it worse. Keeping open lines is important and will produce more positive results. You must try to keep the walls of silence down.
Research and Learning is the key to understanding
Another thing you can do is educate yourself on the topic of Eating Disorders. There are many wonderful books available at your local library or book store. They will offer a information on a variety of issues pertaining to Eating Disorders. The more educated you are, the more of a help you will become to your friend or loved one.
There are also many web sites on the Internet about Eating Disorders. Not only can you find support for the sufferer but you may have the opportunity to seek support from others that have endured the same experience as you. Chat rooms are one of the great ways to meet others and a great way to communicate.
Listen to what someone has to say.
Learn to be a great listener. Eating Disorders are not just about food. They are about a way to feel in control, a way to hide, a way of coping and dealing with emotional pain, low self esteem, stress and depression. It may be difficult but try to pay more attention to what comes out of their mouth rather than what's going in.
Teenagers and Eating Disorders
During the years of growing up you may remember your parents telling you to eat your peas and carrots and to drink your milk because it is good for you. You probably even remember them teaching you table manners as well. I'll also bet you've heard things like "No dessert until you eat all of your dinner" or "You're not leaving the table until your plate is clean". During the years, you have probably learned a lot about eating and the importance of it.
Now you're here reading this because you know or suspect that you or someone you love may be suffering from an eating disorder. Even though we have to eat to live and survive, eating can become a serious disorder for some people. It's hard enough for some adults to understand these disorders let alone kids or teenagers. The truth is teenage girls and even boys are either on some kind of diet or suffering from an eating disorder. If you ever think you're alone, sadly you're not. Eating disorders are a problem all over the world of girls, women, men and boys all over the world.
The good news is, is that the more you know about eating disorders, the more likely it is that you will able to help yourself, a friend or someone in your family and even help prevent it from ever happening to you. There is also great help out there, all you have to do is find the courage to reach out. This isn't easy and the sad part is, many girls perhaps like yourself are suffering all over the world. You may feel you're all alone and you're the "only one" but I can assure you, you're not. You may feel like no one will understand or people will make fun of you and tease you. Eating disorders are certainly no laughing matter and anyone who knows about eating disorders will tell you how dangerous they are and how life threatening they can become. Left untreated, eating disorders can progress and become worse, it's important to reach out and tell someone and get the help you need and deserve. No one wants to have an eating disorder and no one wakes up one morning with one, it's something that happens over time and it isn't your fault. As much you may feel embarrassed and ashamed, you have nothing to feel badly about. You may feel very frightened right now and even more afraid to reach out for help, I know I've been there. I want you to know, that there are lots of people out there who care about helping you and can help you put your life back together. These first steps are never easy but once you make them, the process of helping yourself will begin. I encourage you to find someone that you can talk to and get help, eating disorders just don't disappear and go away.
If it is a friend who is or may be suffering, you can only do so much. You can't and don't have to deal with the situation all by yourself. It could prove too much for you to handle. Tell your friend that you care, listen to her, support her and encourage her to seek help. Do not blame yourself if your friend tells you they don't want help and refuses to get it. Your friend does need professional help however if their condition is scaring you, please tell someone you trust right away, any person you can find that can get the help your friend needs. If they are complaining about physical pains that are severe or if they are talking about killing themselves (suicide) they require immediate help.
Eating disorders aren't the only issues that affect teens. Teens also suffer from depression, have drug problems and many self injure. There are so many problems teens have to face with today and even peer pressure is getting worse. Maybe you're suffering from depression, maybe you have been abused or are being abused, maybe you're having problems in school or a bad relationship. Whatever the case, your problems are important and you don't have to deal with them alone. There are resources and there are people who care about what you're going through. Maybe you're too scared to come forward and get the help you need. Perhaps you have found yourself pregnant and unable to cope. Perhaps your home life is causing you great misery and you feel you have no way out. Please, please reach out - you don't have to be alone. Many resources are geared towards you because they know the fear involved. They are free and confidential. As you may have already found out, hiding from a problem never makes it go away. Running away from a problem doesn't always solve. Let someone help you - you need to make the call.
Whether you or someone else is suffering from an eating disorder or any issue, I can tell you there is help out there. I strongly urge to make those first few steps in reaching out for help that you need and deserve.
Personal Stories From people suffering from eating disorders
Learning How To Deal With It....
Here's my story. I hope that it helps others who similarly fight every day--and sometimes win and sometimes lose but always pick themselves up and move forward.
I was in ballet for ten years. The stress of maintaining a perfect, tiny ballet body was intense and I thrived on it. I enjoyed the challenge and was a 'perfect' eater. I took pride in my will power and loved that people were always commenting on it. It all changed, however, after I decided to quit ballet. By that time, I was at 105 pounds (I'm 5'7). This isn't skeleton skinny, but too skinny, nonetheless. After I quit, I was terrified to gain any weight and restricted my food to 900 calories a day and I exercised for an hour each day. Well, the stress of beginning a new life for myself that didn't include dancing for five hours a day got to me. I had lost many of my friends due to the previous demands on my time and I was so lonely. I then turned to the very thing I had denied myself for so long. In secret, I began binge eating to distract myself from the pain I was experiencing. Afterwards, I would feel so horrible and I began to detest myself. I knew I had a problem and I didn't want it to progress to anything serious so I got help.
I began seeing a councilor which set me on the road to accepting my problem. Yet, I think the turning point for me was a discussion I had with my older brother about my eating disorder. He related to me some difficulties that he had, and still has, with depression. Although he is brilliant, he never finished law school due to his depression--which only made matters worse. In many ways, he could relate to the helplessness that I felt. I told him that my goal was to completely get over my problems and live what I deemed a 'normal life'. I longed to not think, obsess, and care about food and my appearance. My brother then passed on the most valuable information that I've received and that I think about almost every day. He told me to quit trying to be perfectly free from my problem and figure out how to get through it--meal by meal, day by day, week by week. I was desperately trying to sweep all my problems away rather than learning how live with them and deal with them.
It's been a year since I've faced my eating problems--since I've faced myself. I'm doing so much better. The outward manifestations of my eating disorder are under my control now, but the inward signs still remain--which are equally as difficult to deal with. But, every day that I go to bed and
consider how I've made it through another day without harming myself, I'm so proud. I'm about ready to leave to serve a mission for 18 months for my church in Brazil. This wouldn't have been possible a year ago. I'm grateful to my brother who gave me the advice that flipped my thinking over. Now, I know how to handle dealing with my problem, with myself. I'm grateful for the realization that I have the power in me to help myself. It's great to have people who will help and support you, but in the end, you have to respect yourself and decide that you are indeed worth fighting for.
THE STORY OF KAYLEE
Kaylee had a good childhood. Her family was upper middle class so she didn't want for very much. She had a younger sister Michelle and although they fought once in awhile for the most part they got along well. Kaylee would soon be 15 in about 6 months and she was in her first year of high school. Kayee was a fun and outgoing girl. She loved to be involved in sports and other fun activities, her favorite subject at school was drama. Kaylee had no definite plans for the future but she one day hoped that she could work helping sick or injured animals. Kaylee's parents would never let her have an animal of her own but she still loved them all the same.
At school Kaylee had many friends. She liked her teachers although the new routine of high school at times proved to be trying and difficult. She found it difficult keeping up with so many teachers and classes in one day. Her teachers told her this feeling of difficulty would pass as time went on and she became more adjusted to the routines of high school. Kaylee's closest friend was Kim, they had met years back when Kaylee was only 6. They went to school together, ate lunch together and shared secrets as girls their age do. Sadly, Kim's mother was moving away now that she and her husband divorced. Kaylee was devastated by this news and slowly started to prepare herself for her new life without Kim so close anymore. Kaylee's parents felt for their daughter as they knew how close Kim and Kaylee were. Kaylee lived in Vancouver while Kim was moving to Ontario. The separation would not make it easy for them to visit each other and everyone knew that, no one more aware of this than Kaylee.
As the months passed Kim finally moved to Ontario with her mother. Kaylee made sure she didn't see Kim on the day she left as she couldn't bear to say good bye. Instead Kaylee wrote Kim a simple letter wishing her well and told her she would call her once she was settled into her new home. Secretly, Kaylee went to a park and cried her out heart out. She was going to miss Kim and the close friendship they had shared. Kaylee didn't share too much of her sadness with her sister or family. She felt they were much too busy and how could they possibly understand how she felt? Kaylee's mother Betty was a daycare worker and Kaylee's father Greg was a business man. Both of them put in long exhausting hours that left them tired when they got home. Michelle was only 9 and to Kaylee, she was too young to understand the pain that she felt.
At school things seemed harder for Kaylee without Kim. Kim was no longer there to help and support her and above all she wasn't there as the companion that she used to be. Kaylee worked hard at school keeping her grades and socialized with some other girls her age so she managed to keep herself busy. She occasionally spoke with Kim on the phone and it seemed that Kim was doing really well in her new home. Kim had managed to make another close friend and was adjusting well. In ways, Kaylee was jealous to hear that Kim was doing so well. She thought to herself, "Didn't Kim miss me as much as I miss her?" She hated herself for wanting Kim to be as miserable as she felt. Kaylee dismissed her thoughts and knew that Kim was moving on her without her.
As time went on, Kaylee grew more lonely. She never told her parents how much the separation from Kim had left her saddened. She never told them that adjusting to high school had been more difficult than what she had let on. Kaylee didn't want to burden them with her problems. After all, they had enough to do trying to work and support a family. She had no right to complain about her life and problems. Kaylee kept to herself.
Kaylee's parents noticed changes in Kaylee. She was spending more time in her room and rarely recieved phone calls from friends. When Betty confronted her daughter and asked her if everything was okay, Kaylee told her everything was fine. She chalked Kaylee's behavior up to her age. Teenagers go through hard times and Betty knew that being 15 wasn't always easy. She let things go feeling that everything was fine.
Kaylee like being in her room now and liked being alone. For once in her life, she didn't want or feel interested in doing the things that she used to do. School was a drag now and her grades were suffering. She did her best to keep up with her grades but she found the work load difficult to keep up with. The other girls at school were popular and some of them were even dating. Kaylee wished that she was popular like them and she also wanted to start dating too. To Kaylee, she knew that she could never get a date as all the other girls were so much more popular than her and so much prettier. She could never amount up to them in her own mind and besides, none of the boys never paid much attention to her anyways.
As time grew on, Kaylee worked hard on improving her grades. Most of the time she would skip lunch to work in the library. Kaylee knew that eating was important and she was hungry but keeping her grades up was the first priority. Later in the day , she ate little or just threw her lunch away. Kaylee felt guilty throwing away the lunch her mother had taken time to make for her. At home, Kaylee would work late nights on her studies, often passing up meals with the family. Her parents were sometimes never there for supper anyways so she knew her absence wouldn't be missed a great deal. Sometimes Betty would bring dinner for her to eat in her room. Greg didn't like that idea much feeling that she should sit with the family to eat. In spite of his disagreement, Betty took dinner to Kaylee anyways.
After some weeks, Kaylee noticed that her body had changed. She was losing weight. The clothes that were once snug on her, now hung a little more loosely. Kaylee liked this new change and accepted it happily. Somehow, she had managed to feel better and to her even look better. With her grades being so poor and feeling so lonely, this was one thing that she was doing right. Kaylee then decided that losing a few more pounds would make her look even better. Besides, all the other girls at school were thin and it was about time she lost those baby looking chubby cheeks. Secretly, Kaylee started a diet plan.
Kaylee decided first that she would eat only dinner, skipping breakfast and lunch. She would eat a small dinner at home with her family. She knew she just couldn't skip dinner as she didn't want her parents to find out about her new diet. They would disagree and wouldn't understand her reasons. Kaylee secretly thought about how her new diet and how it would make her happier. It had already given her feelings of excitement and the thought of feeling more accepted and popular at school gave her feelings of encouragement.
Only after a few short weeks Kaylee had managed to lose 6 pounds. Kaylee was thrilled and felt a true sense of accomplishment. Her scale at home had become her prize possession and she kept it under her bed so she didn't have to keep going to the bathroom to check her weight. When Kaylee had managed to lose weight she felt a sense of pride and when her weight had stayed the same, Kaylee felt disappointed and at times even felt like a failure. Kaylee started to hide her weight loss with bigger and baggy clothes. At school some of her peers started to notice and she received many compliments. Kaylee was happy that her weight loss was being noticed and for the first time since being in high school, Kaylee was starting to feel accepted.
Kaylee's parents on the other hand were becoming concerned with Kaylee. Since the first time Betty had first talked to Kaylee about how things were going, things had become worse. Kaylee no longer ate meals with the family at all. This angered Greg and he demanded that Kaylee eat dinner with the rest of the family. This angered Kaylee. She couldn't understand how her father could make her sit at the table. Kaylee had no choice but to abide by her fathers rules. She hesitantly attended the dinner table with her parents and younger sister. Kaylee ate slowly and paid close attention as to who was watching her. She didn't want to be sitting there and even more, she didn't want to be eating. None of her family understood her. They didn't understand how it felt to be lonely. They didn't see all the other thin girls at school and more importantly, they didn't understand how hard things were for her.
Kaylee's weight loss continued as her new diet was taking its toll. She became thinner and happier than ever. In spite of not eating much, Kaylee was energetic and was always the first one in her home to be up in the morning. There were times she felt tired and even felt dizzy but she managed to keep to her daily routines. At school some of Kaylee's teachers were concerned about her. They noticed that she didn't eat lunch with the other kids and she was having a great deal or problems concentrating in class. They also noticed the amount of weight that she was losing. Out of concern they decided to contact Kaylee's parents to make sure that everything was okay.
Betty took the phone call from Kaylee's school. Betty grew even more worried and concerned about her daughter. She knew that everything was not alright as Kaylee had once made her believe. When Kaylee arrived home from school, Betty confronted Kaylee. Kaylee was angered and annoyed by the school and her mother. She protested that everything was fine and that everyone was just out to make her miserable. Kaylee admitted that she had lost some weight but it was only because she was busy at school and was missing lunch. Betty made her promise that she would start eating properly again and she would attend dinner with the family every night. Kaylee agreed.
Betty discussed the situation her husband and they both agreed they would keep a close eye on Kaylee to make sure she would not lose more weight that she ate everything they gave to her. They would keep in touch with the school and do their best to spend more time with Kaylee. If matters got any worse they decided they would take Kaylee to see their family doctor. They discussed that maybe their daughter had some kind of eating disorder but then their daughter was never fat or thought she was fat . Betty and Greg knew little about eating disorder but were sure that their daughter didn't have that sort of problem. Their daughter was too smart for that.
Kaylee began to feel threatened by her parents and her school. They were trying to stop her and to take away something that made her happy, the only thing that made her happy. She wondered how they could do such a thing to her. Kaylee looked at herself in the mirror in her room. She wasn't as thin as everyone told her. The person she saw in the mirror told her she needed to lose more weight, that it would make her happier, prettier and better. Kaylee liked what she saw and wasn't going to give it up for anyone. Besides, she felt great and even better off than others. The voices inside Kaylee's head told her that all the others were just jealous of her. The others were just weaker than her and not in control of their bodies like she was.
Kaylee was turning 15 now. Her parents urged her to have a get together of some sort but Kaylee refused. The thought of cake and ice cream repulsed her. Besides she liked being with her friends but restaurants and parties were out of the question. Kaylee missed things like that but those things involved eating and it was something she'd have no part in even if it meant being alone while her friends had a good time. Kaylee would think to herself "Let them all get fat with that pizza and junk food". Kaylee would rather spend her time exercising to stay fit and strong. In ways, Kaylee felt sorry for her friends who could not be like she was.
As the weeks passed after Kaylee's birthday, Kaylee's parent's could no longer stand to see their daughter become so thin. Even after attempts to make her eat at the dinner table, Kaylee still managed to lose weight. Greg's temper grew worse and would often yell and end up leaving the dinner table. Dinner hour had become the worst hour for the whole family, especially to Kaylee. Betty and Michelle would sit there and cry not understanding why Kaylee was doing this to everyone. Betty even often felt angry at her daughter for causing so much worry and unhappiness. Some of Betty's friends had even accused Kaylee of doing this just to get attention. Betty felt this was a way of blaming her and Greg because they had spent long hours at work and unable to provide Kaylee with enough love and attention. Betty grew defensive knowing that the problem was much deeper than that. She knew that no one could do such terrible things to themselves just for the sake of getting attention.
Depression sank in as Kaylee's condition became worse. Kaylee hated herself for hurting her family so much. Many times, she felt underserving of their love and concern. Feelings of guilt grew in her. Kaylee had sometimes ate meals with the family to make them happy but later threw it up. She would only make herself throw up if she felt forced to eat. Once she had eaten, the feelings of guilt and panic would overcome her. Her mind told her to get rid of it or else it would make her fat. Kaylee gave in the voices that she now heard louder than ever before. She felt like she hated everyone around her and she hated herself.
It was soon decided by Betty and Greg that some sort of intervention take place. Through the months they had seen their daughter self destruct in ways they could never have imagined. Betty read everything she could find on the topic of eating disorders. It didn't take her long to discover the truth to her daughters illness. She wondered what she had to done to make her daughter do this, she had tried so hard to be a good and loving parent. Why was God failing her like this? Was God punishing her for something? She had so many questions and little answers. Betty then decided and knew that medical intervention was the only way to deal with Kaylee's problem.
Betty and Greg soon made the painful decision with their family doctor to have Kaylee hospitalized for Anorexia Nervosa. Kaylee refused but since she was under 18 her parents made the decision for her. She screamed at her parents that they didn't understand and accused them of not loving her or else they wouldn't be taking such actions against her. The words that Kaylee screamed stung her parents, the words "I HATE YOU" had never sounded to so real. They were left to wonder where the daughter who was once loving and so peaceful had disappeared to. Their hearts broke as they seen the amounts of suffering and pain in their daughter's eyes.
The hospital in which admitted Kaylee were wonderful and supportive of her needs. Although Kaylee hated and resented being there, she was now getting the help that she desperately needed. Betty and Greg were also coming to a better realization and understanding of their daughter's condition. They were struggling to search for answers and struggling to deal with their own pain. Kaylee's condition not only effected her, it effected everyone. Kaylee's pain was a shared pain and they ached to reach the daughter they once had. They loved her so deeply.
It took Kaylee time while in the hospital to come to her own terms with her illness. It was very difficult for her to admit and recognize that she had a threatening disease. Something that started out so small had changed her life. Inside, she even wondered how this had happened to her. Since this all started, she felt very much in control of her life and it was hard to realize how out of control her problem had become. Kaylee didn't want to hurt anyone and she didn't do this on purpose it just happened and now she felt so confused.
At home Betty and Greg talked to Michelle. Through all of this, it was difficult for Michelle to understand what was going on with her older sister Kaylee. All of it was so frightening to her, there was so much she didn't understand. She loved her sister and didn't want her to be sick. Betty and Greg also spoke with Cathy, Kim's mother who were now living in Ontario. They arranged for Kim to visit with Kaylee as they thought a visit would help Kaylee in her recovery. They knew Kaylee needed all the support from people who loved her during this time in her life. Betty also arranged for her and her husband to attend support groups for those with eating disorders. They both longed to speak with others who had gone through the same thing they had.
Kaylee remained in the hospital for several weeks where her condition improved. She was receiving help from a doctor as well as a therapist. While she was there, she learned more about her illness and herself. Slowly, some of the anger she had felt towards her parents subsided and she understood their concern and need to help her. After time, Kaylee started to open up to others and told them of her inside pain that she had never shared with others before. She talked about Kim leaving and the difficulty she was having in school. She shared her difficulties in keeping up her marks and her need to feel popular with the other girls at school. She shared her loneliness, fears, problems and even her joys. It wasn't always easy to confront her feelings like that however in many ways she felt glad to be sharing the feelings that she so often kept buried away inside herself. Most of all, she knew that she had people to listen and the people that she thought would never understand did in fact understand and if they didn't, they tried to. Kaylee admitted the hardest thing of all to herself and to others. She admitted that she had an eating disorder.
The months of recovery were hard for Kaylee and her family. It took time for Kaylee to learn how to live a normal life again without her eating disorder. Since Kaylee had her eating disorder for some time, she had to learn better eating habits again and to deal with her feelings in a more healthy way. Her eating disorder had taken up so much of her time and energy that Kaylee had to find other things to do. At times, this task was hard and Kaylee even felt an emptiness without her disorder. As her weight went up to more healthy levels, Kaylee struggled with her feelings about it. Sometimes she liked being back to a healthy weight while other times she wanted to be thin again like she was before. Although it was becoming clearer than ever before that being thin didn't mean happiness nor did it mean that she would be accepted at school and more than anything, she knew it wouldn't solve her problems, in fact it would only create more. The pain she was now suffering with her eating disorder was more than any other pain she had ever suffered before. To seek only more happiness in her life had brought her to pain and despair not only to herself but to those around her who loved her.
Late that year while Kaylee was still in treatment for her eating disorder, Kim came to visit. They hadn't seen each other since Kim first moved. Kaylee was so happy to see her, she wrapped her arms around the friend she loved and missed so much. Kim responded with the same feelings. Together the girls sat down to talk about their lives and things that were going on with each other. Kim expressed to Kaylee how hard the move had been for her and how much she had deeply missed their friendship. Things had been different for Kim than what Kaylee had first thought. Kaylee also realized that Kim had not left or abandoned her as she had once felt. Even though there was a distance between them, that didn't mean that their friendship was over or that they no longer could keep in touch. The girls promised each other to make more effort in keeping in touch and visiting when they could.
Kaylee's parents also did a lot of learning about themselves and Kaylee. They learned better ways to understand and be there for their daughter. They realized that their daughters eating disorder was not their fault and they found ways to release the guilt they had felt about it. They also knew that deep down God had not done this to punish them. God doesn't do bad things or make bad things happen, He is only there to help and guide when bad things happen. Above all, He was the one in the first place who had blessed them with Kaylee in the first place.
This story was written by someone suffering from Anorexia and Bulimia.
It all started when...
I am fighting with Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa for 3 years now, and the war continues. I started dieting and thinking about my weight when I was 10 years old, but it only became an obsession when I was 12. I really tried hard not to eat. I was not overweight at all, actually, my weight was normal. But I though I'm huge. Even now, after I lost all that weight, I still think I'm huge. So, for about a year and a half, I would starve for a few days, then binge. I didn't really lose weight though. Starving & binging only maintained my weight. But I wanted to lose weight. A lot of weight. So gradually I started to starve more, and to binge less. My weight dropped, and people started to notice. Especially my friends. At first, they said how great I look. Then, they said I'm too skinny. Then, they told me how pale I am. Then, they called me an anorexic. Well, why then did I still feel fat? I used to stand in front of the mirror in my room, naked. I looked at my body and cried. I hated myself. I hate my body. I'm just a worthless pig. At that time I would still binge, but mostly I chewed gum. I've decided I need to do something about my binging. I bought books like "How To Control Your Eating", "Think Slim", and all of those, but nothing helped.
Then things started to get even worse...
One day, I went to the pharmacy, and asked for laxatives. I used them for about a month, and lost a lot of weight. Most of the weight I lost was fluids, but I didn't care. All I wanted was to see the numbers on the scale. Every time I stepped on the scale, the number was lower and I loved it. I mean, I hate myself so much. The less of me - the better. I stopped using laxatives after a while, though. I always had "laxative pain", and it really hurt. Then one day, when I was in school, I felt like I was being stabbed in my stomach. The pain was horrific and I was in the middle of a math test! I called my dad, and he came to pick me up. I told him I didn't feel well, and he took me home. I spent hours in bed, turning from side to side, trying to find the right position. I never used laxatives after that day, only in "emergencies", like after I really ate a lot. So I had to do something else about my binging. I mean, I had to lose weight. So, I started throwing up after meals. I would starve for the whole day, and binge at night. Then I went to the bathroom, locked the door, and made myself sick. At first, it was really hard, but as time passed, I became a "pro". That was about 9 months ago. I was really depressed and nervous all the time. I had nothing in common with my friends anymore, and I was very alone. I never talked with my family anymore, and my parents thought I'm just going through a "faze". They didn't know what was going on. I wore big clothes (not to hide how thin I am, but to hide how fat I am) so they couldn't see a thing. One day, when I was taking a shower, mom accidentally got in. she just stood there, her mouth open, and stared at me. "What?" I asked. She didn't answer. She just got out and closed the door. When I finished, she took me to her room and told me to stand on the scale. I was so scared, and my mom called the family doctor and asked him if my weight is normal. I was sick for a few days before she saw me, so I told her I probably lost weight during that time. I convinced her and the doctor to believe that, and soon they forgot about the whole thing. With each day I felt worse though. I started cutting myself, and thought about suicide all the time. I fought with my friends and became more and more obsessed with my weight. My hair was falling, my periods have stopped, and I was yellow. I couldn't keep that secret inside anymore. I didn't understand what I had become.
The big step and things today.
I decided to tell my friends, but I told them I would kill myself if they would tell my parents. I was too afraid. What if my parents will force me to eat? The next day, in school, I told the secret I was holding inside for 3 years to my 2 best friends. I was so relieved. It felt so good, sharing the pain with them. Letting them get into my world. They were very worried about me. One of them started crying, and the other was in shock. I was a great actress, and during those 3 years I was never myself. I was just pretending. They promised not to tell my parents, and I agreed to look for help myself. We all called a few places, but I only did it for them. I didn't want to get out of this. I still don't. I guess it takes time. Anyway, in one of the places I talked with the secretary, and found out she is a recovered anorexic herself. We talked over the phone, but I didn't tell her my real name. I was scared she would tell my parents. She convinced me to meet her, and for a whole month we talked over the phone daily and met a few times. She really understood me, and helped me a lot. Finally, after hours of chatting, crying and sympathy, I agreed to tell my parents on one condition - they won't force me to do anything. Looking back, I can't believe I did this. Me, my parents, and this woman met in a coffee shop, and she explained to them all about the illness. My parents were and still are, very supporting and understanding, I'm going to therapy now, 3 times a week. Things are just easier now, and I'm glad I told them and that I told my friends. I can be myself. I still hate myself, and I'm still deep inside my anorexia/bulimia life, and I can't say I'm any better, but things have changed. I no longer cut myself, I just don't feel the need to. I think it's better my parents have found out this way, because maybe if I would just faint in school or something, they wouldn't be as great to me as they are today. They appreciate it. I think half the problem is solved once you tell. I mean, I had a secret. I had to deal with the secret itself, plus, I had to hide it. I feel a lot better now. I still have a long fight ahead. Maybe I'll win, maybe not. Who knows? I'm just living my life, day after day now.
Men with an Eating Disorder
Some people actually find it hard to believe that a boy or man could suffer from an eating disorder. Many still believe that an eating disorder is just about young girls and women and never think about the men who also suffer. For years eating disorders have been considered as "female problems" and men who suffer are rarely spoke about or thought about.
Through building this site, I have been contacted by few boys or men who suffer from eating disorders yet I know they are out there. It has been reported that 10% of eating disorder victims are men however I don't think I would take any figure and consider it written in stone. From those who have contacted me, these men live in secrecy about their eating disorders, often telling no one. Anyone can suffer from an eating disorder regardless of gender or age.
Last year, one person contacted me by the name of "Tracy" and told me they were suffering from Bulimia. We emailed back and forth briefly discussing various issues. It wasn't until a couple of weeks later that I learned I had been corresponding with a male. Naturally, I had assumed that I was emailing back and forth with a girl and I know now Tracy wanted it this way. While the name Tracy has been used as a male and female name, Tracy was not his real name. In fact, Tracy was just an alias name that he used when corresponding with other sufferers. He told me, it made him feel more "comfortable" and this way he didn't have to worry about added questions from others or being the "only male" on a support mailing list. He also felt that I would have been more "warm" and "welcoming" of an email from a girl rather than a male. Tracy taught me something very valuable and I don't think I could have learned it better any other way. By allowing me not to know his gender, he made me realize how very much alike we were. He also made me ask the question to myself, "How would I feel if I was a man suffering from an illness labeled as a women's disease?" While any eating disorder is not just a "woman's disease" this is how Tracy felt about having Bulimia. He developed Bulimia after being on an athletic team which involved a "required" weight and weight was monitored. He never thought of himself as fat yet he found himself wanting to keep up with other team mates. (Also see Athletes) He has never felt he could confide in friends or other team mates about his disorder and feels males are often more isolated than women who suffer. How could I disagree? In result, Tracy has never received professional help or treatment for his disorder. He expressed disappointment that one of the treatment centers in his area was geared towards women and felt too ashamed and embarrassed to attend as he didn't want to sit with a "bunch of women" and feel like an "oddball". His fear of being rejected or "snickered" at by others left him to suffer in secrecy and loneliness. It is almost like he has been victimized once by his eating disorder and then secondly by society.
Men develop eating disorders mainly for the same reasons why women do. Many have suffered some kind of abuse during their lives and many suffer from low self esteem. It is evident in Tracy's story above, that men also feel the need to "fit in" and feel "accepted". They often dislike themselves as many women and are unable to express emotions and pain they feel inside. Many men may also suffer from depression and can't seem to cope or deal with emotions or personal issues in their lives. Many men have been overweight and started dieting until they lost control and many have received great praise and attention for their weight loss which kept them eager to keep going. Many overweight males may have been teased and picked on about their weight by others during childhood or adult years. It also seems that Bulimic men are more opt to compulsively exercise rather than self induced vomiting or laxative abuse. While I have mentioned Bulimia, males can suffer from Anorexia, Compulsive Overeating and Binge Eating Disorder. However since it seems socially accepted for men to eat large quantities of food at one time, an eating disorder many never be suspected. For any gender, an eating disorder is about how the person feels about themselves. Many men have turned to drug and alcohol abuse as a way of numbing and hiding negative feelings and emotions yet the number of male eating disorder victims is on the rise. It may be easy to detect if a woman is suffering from an eating disorder yet when it comes to males, it might be more difficult. Many might just think the male is trying to "stay in shape" and never suspect an eating disorder since many think it is "rare" or uncommon. Homosexual males who have struggled with their sexuality may also develop an eating disorder as a way to cope with their emotions and feelings. On the other hand, some men feel if they come forward about an eating disorder, they will be labeled as homosexual when in reality they are not. Men who are in the entertainment industry also seem to be at higher risk for developing an eating disorder. For actors, musicians and especially models, there is an added pressure on body image and appearance. Men in these occupations or in certain athletic sports are at greater risk for developing an eating disorder.
When it comes to treatment for eating disordered males, it seems that some health care professionals also fail to realize and recognize eating disorder victims. Again, since it is more common in females, I think professionals just don't identify it or consider the possibility. Along with females, males also require professional treatment for an eating disorder. It is my hopes that more awareness will bring these men who suffer close to the doors of help and treatment that they too deserve and require. Once a physician is consulted and a treatment program put into place, treatment for males usually have great results. Males often require the assistance and professional help of a mental health therapist to identify and work through underlying emotional issues.
While I am a female who has suffered from an eating disorder, I think there's a great need to raise awareness about the male population who suffer from eating disorders. I believe society has yet to really recognize and accept that women are not the only ones who suffer from these deadly diseases. While men often develop eating disorders at older ages than women, this does not mean that a man at any age can not suffer from an eating disorder. I was in a chat room communicating with others when a 64 year old bulimic male entered the chat looking for support. Age is truly irrelevant when it comes to eating disorder victims.
If you have a son that you suspect may have an eating disorder, I encourage you to investigate the problem. If you are reading this page out of concern, chances are there's a good reason! (Also see Signs and Symptoms) I can't stress to you enough that eating disorders are not just about young girls and women. Women, girls, men and boys are also afflicted with these life threatening illnesses. Please education yourself on eating disorders and don't ignore those red flags you might be seeing. If your child is indeed suffering from an eating disorder, they will require professional help and treatment, the sooner the better. Also see the parents section of this site. You might also consider being a part of our Mailing List created and designed for parents who have children who suffer from an eating disorder.
If you have a friend who is a male that you suspect may be suffering from an eating disorder, I also encourage you to learn more about eating disorders and find out ways you can help. Victims of eating disorders often feel embarrassed and ashamed about their problem and if your friend is a male, he may even feel worse about it. If you're concerned about a person you know, a team mate or a close friend, please refer to the page on our site titled "How Should You Confront Someone About an Eating Disorder". There is also a mailing list in which you can join which consists of friends of eating disorder victims who are also seeking support and understanding.
Anyone whether male or female can receive treatment if they want it and recover and there is no reason to suffer alone. (Also see recovery) If you are a male and are reading this page because you are concerned about yourself and suspect you have an eating disorder of any kind, please reach out for help and support. There is no need to feel ashamed and embarrassed about an eating disorder, it's not your fault. There are professionals out there who can help and be sympathetic towards a male who suffers from an eating disorder. Like the rest of us, there is hope for you too. You deserve the forum for help and support too and my hopes are, you will reach out and get it. You can recover and lead a normal, healthy and happy life.
Before I end this lets talk about Eating Disorder Voices
If you ask anyone with an eating disorder about the voices they hear in their head and what they heard, their answers may startle you. The voices I am talking about are the powerful, never ending voices behind an eating disorder. These are the voices that aim at taking control and manipulating and to me are one of the most powerful grips and eating disorder can have.
Have you heard these voices? Those taunting voices that tell you you're not good enough and that you shouldn't eat. The same voices that insult you, that tell you, you are fat, worthless and disgusting? If so, you're not alone with these menacing voices of pain and destruction. They can annoy and frustrate you, confuse you and even leave you in tears wishing they would just go away and never come back. I know how hard it is, I've been there and I still hear those same voices that you do.
These voices often tell me that I'm ugly, useless, stupid, worthless and worse. When my body ached for food, these voices told me, I didn't need it, that I was a much stronger and superior person without it. When I finally gave in and did eat, these voices ridiculed me that I was weak and that I had given in and was out of control. It was an endless cycle and they were undoubtedly words that I believed. They promised I would be happier and situations in my life would become better. These voices were hard to ignore at times and especially hard to explain to other people.
Many who have eating disorders don't talk about these voices because they think they are the only ones who have them and secondly they fear others will think they are insane or crazy. If you have an eating disorder or know someone who does, I think it is important that you are aware of these endless, powerful voices and the power they can possess over a person. They are convincing and manipulating and never seem to subside, they can start early in the morning until someone lays their head down at night.
What Can You Do? Will They Ever Stop?
There is no miracle pill anyone can take to stop the sounds of these voices you hear and no ear plugs in the world that can block them. They are loud and over powering at times but we all have a stronger power within us to overcome and learn to deal with them. Here are a few ideas that might help:
Learn to ignore. We can listen to these voices and we can choose to ignore them. It's not as easy as it sounds and I'm sure you realize how hard this may be. Don't expect to be able to ignore them over night but everyone can gradually learn to block and ignore this daily negative input.
Be Positive. When we hear "You're ugly" , you can think to yourself "Yes I am" or you can think "I'm pretty" or even something simpler like "I'm okay". If the voice you hear tells you negative, start trying to feel and think positive and see if it helps. Keep finding positive thoughts about yourself and the positive things you deserve for every negative you hear.
Don't Believe. If I told you the sky was green, would you believe me? Some will believe me and some won't, it's up to everyone to make a choice for themselves in what they choose to believe and so do you! You hear these voices and you have the choice and power to stop believing the negative you hear.
If you've wondered and often asked yourself if you'll be free from hearing these voices, you will, it takes time. The further down the road you travel towards recovery the more these voices will fade and the less impact they will have on your life. You will need all the determination in the world to fight and overcome them and not allow them to lead you to self-destruction, that my friend is the biggest fight of all.
If you are a friend or family member, please be as understanding and supportive as you possibly can, I know this takes great patience on your part. Just remember your actions and support will always be remembered, appreciated and above all, never forgotten. Keep encouraging in positive ways.
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